Listening to: “Rubber Ring” – The Smiths

The weather today (rainy, gray, not too cold) reminds me a lot of London in the winter. I was thinking of London today, how sort of aimless, cash-strapped, seeing lots of plays, drinking lots of beer, I was when I was living there–and it reminded me a lot of now. Oh, how life runs in loops.

Anyway, thinking of that time and that place, I ran across this video:

When I was there, I spent a whole lot of time just wandering the city, looking for weird little bits of historical shrapnel and back entrances to hidden places. The Shunt Vaults, which are mentioned in the video, is one of the coolest places I’ve ever been. Trippy performance art and tequila shots in old wine cellars under the London Bridge. One of the things I really love about London is how much history is piled on top of other history, how many and old stories you can find just by ducking down a side street. It’s something I really want to poke into in World’s End, once I get up and cracking on that project again.

Blargh. Time to keep searching for gainful employment. Got an interview at Starbucks next week, yup yup.

Somehow this wasn’t where I pictured I’d be three years outta school. Oh, younger self, if you only knew.

…….

In case you haven’t heard, journalism is getting wicked dead. I’m torn between wanting the Globe to hang in there and wanting them to get scared so witless, they actually morph into a decent newspaper. Let’s not talk about possibility number 3 just yet…

Advertisements

Listening to: “This Side of the Blue” – Joanna Newsom

Seeing as how the Northeast corridor’s been experiencing a fake change of seasons the past few days, a parody of the seasons really, absurdly impassible blizzard replaced just as suddenly by a brief, false spring, the whole world from Brooklyn to Allston, unhealthy, suffering a low-grade fever. That wasn’t a sentence. Whatevs.

Anyway, seeing as how that thing, I turned to my favorite tragedy-and-joy-tinged summer poem. I heard “Fern Hill” recited before I ever read it, and I think that’s got to be the best way to be introduced to a poem.

It was two Augusts ago, the roomie and I were at his dad’s friend’s cabin in the Green Mountains, Central Vermont, all of us around a bonfire in the rural dark, clear sky, million stars, crescent moon, dogs around the edges of the light, candles floating on the pond, whiskey flowing, guitar tinkling. The kind of night I wish every night could be. And then the owner of said cabin stood up and recited “Fern Hill” from memory–no not recited, performed it, lit by the fire, his hands obscuring and revealing the moon as he gestured. His voice echoed down the hillside.

firepit

FERN HILL

Now as I was young and easy under the apple boughs
About the lilting house and happy as the grass was green,
The night above the dingle starry,
Time let me hail and climb
Golden in the heydays of his eyes,
And honoured among wagons I was prince of the apple towns
And once below a time I lordly had the trees and leaves
Trail with daisies and barley
Down the rivers of the windfall light.

And as I was green and carefree, famous among the barns
About the happy yard and singing as the farm was home,
In the sun that is young once only,
Time let me play and be
Golden in the mercy of his means,
And green and golden I was huntsman and herdsman, the calves
Sang to my horn, the foxes on the hills barked clear and cold,
And the sabbath rang slowly
In the pebbles of the holy streams.

(more…)

Listening to: “Another World” – Antony & the Johnsons

Greetings from the heart of the Northeastern Seaboard’s Neverending Blizzard ’08! It’s already put me on postpone for 2 plays this weekend–luckily rescheduling is set to occur. Can’t afford to miss out on writing assignments this month. You know that old carol “Christmas is coming, the goose is getting fat, etc. etc.”? Yeah, I’m the one who hasn’t got a ha’penny and needs some god-blessing.

Still, I think I’ll always have a Pavlovian joy response to snow days, even when I’ve got no work or school from which to play hooky. Last night Tuck and I holed up at Ryan and Rog’s and watched Mad Men and had Schnapps-spiked hot cocoa, while the snow piled up in drifts over Brookline. The mutt definitely digs the snow–sometimes it even makes him forget his debilitating fear of the Green Line–all old smells covered up, fluffy whiteness belly-high, and the whole world fresh and up for grabs. He leap-runs through deep snow in winter the same way he does through the tide in the summer when I bring him to the beach. I wonder what the beaches must look like now–totally surreal, no doubt. You never really see the image of snow falling on ocean waves.

Today out my bedroom window I saw a scrawny guy standing in a full Santa suit on the sidewalk, just chillin’. A girl walks up to him and–I shit you not–sticks her hand down his woolly red pants. And we’re talking deep–like, grab-the-dude’s-dick-and-flail-it-around-a-bit deep. Santa didn’t seem particularly aroused, but it was hard to read the eyes buried between the beard and hat. I’m telling you man, only in Allston.

Alright, time to go dig out the ol’ car so I can get to Cafenation and get some actual productive freaking writing done. I’ll leave you with an image of what I wish I were doing this fine, snowy evening:

Listening to: “Everybody Say” – Takka Takka

So I’m driving to Central Square tonight, stopped at the stoplight at the Harvard Ave/Cambridge St intersection. All of sudden, in the purest sense of the word “sudden,” this dude comes running in the direction of my car at high speed. He’s got this crazed, determined look in his eyes. My first thought is that he maybe just stole something and he’s weaving through cars in the street. But he doesn’t dodge my car, he comes straight for it.

Next thing I know, this guy has jumped on my hood, vaulted over my windshield, and then I hear his feet pounding across my roof, the metal buckling. Then he hits the hood, leaps to the pavement, and is off down the street before I’ve hardly had a chance to lay on my horn.

WHAT THE FUCK? Does this happen to other people? In life?

Part of me thinks it’s kind of awesome, but a larger part of me is pissed off about the shiny new dents on my roof. This after my license plate got stolen two weeks ago. Does my car have a giant “Kick Me” sign on it?

……

Other recent weirdnesses:

I was in New York earlier this week for an interview (!) –fingers crossed. Anyway, yesterday I’m sitting at a Starbucks in Midtown, talking to my friend on the phone. There’s a valet guy sitting next to me, marking stuff on cards. I get off the phone, I’m reading some books I fished from the dumpster behind the Strand (By the way–WTF Strand? Throwing away books? Gross.) And the valet guy says, “Excuse me, miss, but do you believe in God?” And I say, simply, “No” and go back to my Collected Yeats. Luckily he didn’t proceed to try to convert me to whatever-the-fuck, but it was one of those weird beginning-of-a-one-act-play type moments.

Then there was the guy in the line for the bathroom, who tried to guess where I was from. “North Carolina. No… North Dakota! No… Kansas! Wait… Alabama! You look like an Alabaman. Am I right?” Apparently I was giving off some kind of Southern/Midwestern vibe?

And finally, tonight in Central Square, the dude standing outside Phoenix Landing blowing bubbles infused with cigarette smoke. When I first saw them, I thought maybe they were starting to freeze in the air because it’s so fucking cold out all of a sudden. Then some college-looking chick popped one, and I saw the smoke dissipate into the air.

……

I went to the anti-Prop 8 rally in Government Center last weekend. I hadn’t been to a protest since the antiwar march back in 2003. I worry that protests/rallies/etc. don’t do that much good, but considering the national scope of this one, I feel like it made an impact. I’d say more about Prop 8 and all the shittiness associated with it, but I think the public outcry against it, in cities and towns across America, from all ages, creeds, and sexual preferences, speaks for itself. And besides, whenever I talk about it I just get really really angry to the point of incoherence (One of many reason’s I’ll never go into politics–or PR). For more on the Prop 8 madness, I’d point you to my friend R.’s blog post on the subject, which is much more even-handed and eloquent than I could ever conjure. Anyway, here’s a pic of the goodness at City Hall last weekend:

prop 8 rally

And hey Blogland–if you share my rage on this issue: SIGN THE PETITION

……

Been working on “World’s End” again. The weather last week was appropriately apocalyptic to put me in the mood. If anyone has any insider info on working at a CCTV headquarters, it’d be much appreciated. I’m worried the story is getting too introspective. Maybe the first person format isn’t ideal. I say this having recently picked up Salinger’s Nine Stories, which may as well be plays for the way he manages to convey so much interior life without actually going inside any of his characters’ heads. Brilliant.

I’ve also been reading Lonesome Traveler, Kerouac’s quasi-autobiography of his West Coasterly days. He’s not a big fan of periods or commas–we’re talking 2-page long sentences–and I’m pretty sure the original draft (12-foot long typed scroll, that is) of On the Road was a whole lot of really long sentences before his editor got a hold of it. I wonder if a more traditionally punctuated version of Lonesome Traveler wouldn’t net it some more readers. It’s a tempting project, anyway.

T. and I saw Ira Glass do a thing in Northampton last weekend–gawd I love him. He talked a lot about the style and format of This American Life, and how he went about it. Of storytelling, he said: “It’s not about reason, it’s not about logic, it’s about motion.” And my little tattooed heart melted. He also said that Scheherazade from One Thousand and One Nights was “very Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 3,” and called otters “puppies of the sea.”

I could just die.

……

Alright, time to get back to writing and not drinking any hot beverages, because some landlord-and-National-Grid wank has led to our gas being turned off. Le stove, il ne reviendra jamais, jamais.

Listening to: “Lump Sum” – Bon Iver

Ever since the Rains of All Summer departed from Massachusetts last week, long shadows have entered our little editorial enclave each evening around 5:30ish. When my coworkers behind me get up to leave, I can see their silhouettes dancing fitfully across my computer screen. Really, they’re just packing up their bags, unplugging their headphones, checking their cell phones. But from watching the shadows on my screen (Allegory of the Cave, anyone?) it all looks ritualistic, shamanaic.

I’m gonna climb another one of the Presidentials in NH tomorrow with J and Tuck–Mount Jefferson. The summit (5,712 feet) looks over the Great Gulf–a giant cirque between Jefferson and Washington. Love that term, cirque–a glacier-formed valley, shaped like an amphitheater and flanked by mountains. Geographical terms in general, really–isthmus, chaos terrain, fjord, steppe, estuary, hanging valley–so sexy.

Did you know there are 14 Mount Jeffersons in the United States? (What would I do without you, Wikipedia.) 2 in Virginia alone. I wish that the NH one was the tallest, but its ass gets totally kicked by the ones in Idaho, Nevada, and Oregon. Oh well. Now wouldn’t that be a project–climbing all 15 Jeffersons, all the way from the 11,941′ giant in Nevada down the to the sissy 489′ hillock in Arkansas. I dig it. I gotta climb these big mountains out West sometime. The Northeast just can’t hold a candle, I tell you whut.

……..

The terrain of life lately: Loud ambient music, hermitism, the questionable purchase of I-could-kick-the-shit-out-of-you-if-I-wanted-to,-just-sayin’ boots, marathon sessions of watching Veronica Mars, sunglasses falling down public toilets, mild abuse of mild substances, worsening insomnia, sunny days, dead-end writing sessions.

Oh, and how awesome is Miranda July? So awesome:

“That is my problem with life, I rush through it, like I’m being chased. Even things whose whole point is slowness, like drinking relaxing tea. When I drink relaxing tea, I suck it down as if I’m in a contest for who can drink relaxing tea the quickest. Or if I’m in a hot tub with some other people and we’re all looking up at the stars, I’ll be the first to say, It’s so beautiful here. The sooner you say, It’s so beautiful here, the quicker you can say, Wow, I’m getting overheated.”

Been too distracted/abstracted to read much lately (Sorry, Midnight’s Children, you’re too slow), but No One Belongs Here More Than You. is just my pace right now.

……..

As for my own writing–poor “The Price of Rootlessness” is quickly devolving into a string of endless pseudo-noir dialogue; hopefully there’s a plot waiting at the end of the rainbow.

“Are you gonna tell me what I need to know, or are you gonna make this difficult?”
“It is the finest of flowers that blooms in adversity.”
(*Roundhouse KICK!*)
“Yeah, well this desert rose could use a little moisture. So spill it, Rainfall.”

See what I mean? Yeesh.

Listening to: “Driving” – Everything But the Girl

So I’ve pretty much been wet for five days straight. And not in the fun way. What with reviewing mounds of outdoor theater here in Boston (As You Like It in the Common gets interrupted by torrential downpour smack in the middle of “All the world’s a stage…”) and camping and mountain climbing in the Mahoosucs, I suppose it’s not surprising. But seriously, New England–give me a fucking break, will you?

Sooner or later I’ll end up like the forest-bound French regiment in Calvino’s The Baron in the Trees, covered in moss and moisture and looking more plant than human. Or like Moist in Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog: “Is there anything you need dampened… or made soggy?”

Anyway, it’s nice to be sitting in my dry apartment, even if all the lightbulbs have been mysteriously dying, and the water pressure in the bathroom seems to ebb with the rains.

Mt. Success, take two was indeed a success, if a dubious one; it was so rainy and foggy up there, we could barely tell we were on a mountaintop. But the plane crash near the summit (from 1954!) was fucking awesome. Here’s a shot taken partway up the trail, taken with my camera that’s now half-ruined from all the wet:

Just started reading Midnight’s Children by Rushdie. So far, reads like an Indian version of 100 Years of Solitude–which is by no means a bad thing. Every nation needs its magical realist epic novelist-laureate, I suppose.

In other news, I am bored with growing out my hair and am resisting the strong urge to chop it all off again. And I would love if dear little fuzzy life would slow down for a sec so I could maybe take a breath. But breathing is a luxury of the aristocracy.

Listening to: “The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll” – Bob Dylan

Talk about yer misnomers. “Wintry mix?” What is this weather, a delightful tossed salad with a few rutabagas tossed in for seasonal flair? A delightful mix tape to listen to on the Solstice? No. No. “Wintry mix” should be called “assy hell.” “Assy hell” would be vastly more appropriate to describe March snain careening at your face as you come up from the subway into the windy gloom of Dewey Square.

I know I haven’t written in awhile, as I have been both busy and traveling. My job sent me to New York and Philadelphia, to chat up our teams of writers there. It was good times.

In Philly, I saw the greatest drag show ever at a dive bar called Bob & Barbara’s on South Street, which included a variety of glitzy queens, a stripper dangling his barely-sheathed cock along a drunken birthday girl’s face, and hunky bartenders in Speedos serving up the “special”—PBR and a shot of Jim Beam in a tiny plastic cup. I sat on a bench in Rittenhouse Square and ate street-cart cheesesteak.

A sick but kind-looking man with a bag of medications and the lump of a catheter underneath his jacket asked me for train fare. He said he’d just been released from the hospital after kidney surgery, needed to get back Lancaster, and his car had been booted. He said he had HIV and he’d asked fellow black gay men for help and none of them would help. “My own people,” he said. He could have been scamming me, but I honestly don’t think he was. I gave him $2.50. His image sticks with me.

I stayed alone in a Westin, all expenses paid. It was my first time alone in an honest-to-god hotel room. I’ve been alone in sketchy hostels plenty of times (although you’re never really alone in hostels), but never in a nice hotel room. I started laughing when I walked inside, bounced on the huge white bed, spent twenty minutes examining the minibar, the “refreshment” drawer, the dual-headed shower head, the bathrobe, the Gideon’s bible, the view into the shopping court below. I realized I could’ve done anything in there, and no one would know. It was all about discretion. I felt like I ought to order myself a fancy hooker and a room service feast.

In New York, I spent most of the weekend wandering around Williamsburg with Rachel. We walked down to the East River, where real estate junkies had suddenly realized they could build condos that looked out on a perfect view of the Manhattan skyline. At the moment, it’s a big stretch of flattened grass. We stopped in a garden variety of trendy restaurants and bars and stretched out the day with wine and beer. I think if I move there eventually, Tucker will be alright. Lots of dogs, lots of green spaces.

And back in Boston now, busier than ever, wasting time that I don’t have on this blog. I saw My Name is Rachel Corrie a few weeks ago at the New Rep, and it’s really stuck with me. Not just in that it made me want to look further into the Israel-Palestine awfulness, but that Rachel Corrie was a very good writer. Also, that she really dedicated herself to changing the world as best she could and as best she understood it.

The part of the night that really sent me over the edge, though, was that Rachel Corrie’s actual parents were there. They joined in the talkback after the show, and the actress who played Rachel sat next to them, looking at them in awe, red-eyed, humbled.

I started reading her journals this week. She kept them for years–these go from when she was ten right up until her death by Israeli bulldozer in Gaza in 2003 when she was 23. Though some of it is very teen-angsty (albeit extremely articulate teen angst), a lot of what she wrote really feels like I’m hearing someone else rephrasing my own thoughts. If she hadn’t ended up becoming an accidental martyr, I think she could have gone on to be a very fine author.

Written when she was 18:

“I think my soul is nomadic. I’ve always stared upward at airplanes cutting white paths through the sky and wondered where they’re going. I’ve always turned my head a little to listen out of one ear to the people speaking in Spanish behind me on the bus. I’ve always stayed awake all night on the log silent car rides across Montana and Wyoming, watching the muscles of hills in the moonlight, watching the lights of small towns fade into darkness behind me, watching the infinite bald stripe of highway connect eastern horizons to western horizons. I’ve always been jealous of migratory birds.”

Which, in turn, makes me think of Angels in America:

“The oboe. The official instrument of the Order of Travel Agents. If the duck was a song bird, it would sound like this: nasal, desolate, the call of migratory things.”

O, pity us poor, poor privileged white folk, trying to do good in the world and always sinking back into useless self-reflection.

…..you got that that was sarcastic, right?

PS: You all failed my movie quotes quiz by not answering it. Failed. Shame. Shame heaped upon your heads. Tangental pseudo-religious shame.